The statute of limitations on rape differs depending on whether you plan to file a civil claim or press charges, the state you live in, and the age you were at the time of the assault.
What Are Statutes of Limitations?
The statute of limitations refers to the amount of time:
An accuser has to come forward (in criminal cases); and
A plaintiff has to file suit against a defendant (in civil cases)
By implementing statutes of limitations, courts protect defendants by giving them a fighting chance to defend themselves against the charges. It would be almost impossible to defend against a crime you committed 20 years prior. However, it also gives plaintiffs a better chance of having a successful claim because witnesses’ memories are fresh and there is a smaller chance that involved parties will lose evidence or move away.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in My State?
Every state differs. Many states have no criminal statute of limitations (you can file whenever you want) for abuse that occurred when you were a minor; others have 10- to 30-year statutes of limitation.
Most have relatively short statutes of limitation for civil cases though.
Take Florida, for example.
Florida has an eight-year statute of limitations for criminal charges and a four-year limitation for civil cases.
However, many states also have exceptions to these limitations. Take Florida as an example again.
You only have four years to file a claim, although this limit can vary depending on certain factors:
A victim under 16 years of age may file a civil sexual battery suit at any time.
A victim between 16 and 18 years of age has seven years from the day they turn 18 to file civil suit against their attacker; four years from the time the victim could leave the dependency of their attacker; or discovery of the injury and causation (abuse caused injury).
Call the team at Edwards Pottinger LLC to determine your statute of limitations: 954-524-2820. If your case is still within the statute of limitations, we will get started immediately holding your rapist liable for the harm you endured.
Rape: Criminal vs. Civil
Sexual abuse of any kind is a crime under both Florida and federal law. Sexual abuse includes a number of crimes including:
Rape or sexual battery
Nonconsensual sexual contact
Sexual contact between an adult and a minor
Typically, the state will bring criminal charges against the perpetrator. The prosecution will carry the burden of proof and must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge or jury finds the perpetrator guilty of rape charges, s/he will face severe criminal penalties including possible jail time.
Rape victims do not recover damages for their physical, emotional, and financial injuries in a criminal trial. Their best chance to recover damages for their suffering is to file a civil suit against their assailant. The results of the criminal trial do not have an impact on whether the victim will recover damages in civil court.
Rape victims and other survivors of sexual assault deserve monetary damages to be able to focus fully on their recovery. No dollar amount will ever make what happened okay, but financial awards can be helpful when it comes to paying medical expenses, lost wages, and other expenses such as pain and suffering and mental anguish. The best way to recover monetary damages is to file suit against your attacker in civil court.
Filing a Civil Suit for Rape
To cover your medical bills and lost wages and to recover compensation for the emotional and physical effects of your rape, we must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant raped you. The preponderance of the evidence standard requires we prove the defendant “more than likely” raped you.
While this standard is “easier” to prove than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it still requires evidence such as expert testimony, your recollection of the attack, and medical records. While this is a difficult process, we will do anything we can to make it as painless as possible and to help you recover the maximum amount of compensation due to you.
The sexual abuse attorneys at Edwards Pottinger LLC focus on sexual battery cases in civil court and will help you regain control of your life and make sure your attacker pays for the horrible crime he committed.
Call 954-524-2820 to discuss the applicable statute of limitations and how it might affect your case.